The Powder Valley boys basketball team is playing each game like it could be their last, with the ultimate goal being to get back to the Class 1A state tournament next week in Baker City.
After a dominant performance Wednesday, the Badgers are just one win away from achieving that goal.
Tanner Eubanks scored 25 points and collected six steals, Hunter Davis recorded a double-double in the first half and Powder Valley overwhelmed Adrian, 77-37, in the first round of the state playoffs Wednesday.
“They didn’t want it to end,” head coach Warren Wilson said. “They’re playing as though there is no tomorrow. You have to perform. You’re playing with your back against the wall.”
Wilson said that approach is one the team had to take even against an Adrian team that, on paper, it was a favorite over.
“It doesn’t make a difference. You have to perform,” Wilson said.
Eubanks and Davis, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds, helped get the Badger offense going early. Eubanks had 10 points during a 13-0 run for a quick 13-3 lead and finished with 13 points in the opening quarter, which ended with Powder Valley up 25-7 after a buzzer-beater 3 by Dawson Smith.
“We’re playing every game like its our last, because it really is,” Eubanks said. “Senior year, kind of bittersweet games. We’re going all out in every game that we come out to play.”
Davis took over in the second with nine points, including a layup, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in just over a minute to give the Badgers a 37-16 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.
Davis finished the half with 14 points and 10 boards, turning in a dominant effort his teammates have become accustomed to seeing.
“Hunter’s an animal,” Eubanks said. “I don’t even try anymore (on the glass). When the ball is going up I’m going back up court because I know Hunter’s got the rebound. I don’t even worry about it.”
The Badgers took a 39-20 lead to the break, then broke the game wide open in the third. Smith, who finished with 14 points, had eight in the third, including back-to-back 3s for a 51-24 lead. The Badgers went on to lead by as much as 43 points in finishing the blowout win.
Powder Valley finished 27-for-62 from the floor and torched the nets at a 48-percent clip — 12-for-25 — from 3-point range.
“I don’t know if it was home court advantage or what, but we seemed to be on,” Smith said. “We were ready for this and preparing for a win. We didn’t want this to be our last game.”
The Badgers also played solid on defense. They limited the Antelopes to 24 percent shooting (12-for-50), collected 18 steals and caused 24 turnovers. They also held Adrian without a field goal in the opening quarter.
“We talked about playing straight up defense and playing defense with your feet, and they did that,” Wilson said.
The victory propels the Badgers (20-6 overall) into the second round and a rematch with Prairie City on the road Saturday night. The teams already played two instant classics earlier this season — an 80-76 overtime win by the Badgers Dec. 19 in Prairie City and a 67-64 win by the Panthers two days later in North Powder.
“Get back to Baker,” Eubanks said of the team’s goal. “We’ve got another game to go before we get back to Baker, so we’re going to go all out this weekend.”
Eagles reach second round: Caevan Murray scored 20 points to lead three players in double figures, and the Joseph boys basketball team held on in the fourth quarter for a 64-59 win over Condon/Wheeler in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs Wednesday in Condon.
Chase Murray added 14 points and Tyler Homan scored 13 points for the Eagles, who won a first-round playoff game for the second time in three year.
It didn’t come easy, though.
Joseph used a 15-8 second-quarter run to take a 28-18 lead at halftime, and was still up 46-36 after three quarters. The Knights got seven fourth-quarter points from Hunter Winslow and six from Bryce Harrison to get back the game and pull within one, but the Eagles held on thanks to an 11-for-14 effort from the free-throw line in the final quarter.
“I was really proud of how the team bounced back after Condon came back from being down 15 and got within one,” Joseph head coach Olan Fulfer said. “The boys stepped up and made a very high percentage of free throws at the end of the game that sealed the win.”
Winslow scored 18 points for the Knights.
Joseph (16-8 overall) travels to Damascus Christian Saturday night, needing just one win to reach the state tournament in Baker City.